Monday, May 16, 2011

Excel, Minitab, Powerpoint, and... VOLLEYBALL!

Monday 5/9
While some of us decided to sleep in, most of the class rolled out of bed to meet their group at the library by 9:00am to begin working on our data reports. As we opened our folders filled with data, many of us were "a bit" overwhelmed with the formatting, entry, and all around insane amount of data we had to work with. An hour into plugging numbers, we made our way to the lecture room to listen to our Laura give her talk, Structure and Dynamics: Communities to Meta-Ecosystems.

Laura, prepping for lecture

In this lecture we learned about some of the different models that help describe community and ecosystem structure, such as the Menge-Sutherland environmental stress model and the meta-ecosystem model. 

Back to the lecture room!

The rest of the day was filled with data entry and analysis, broken up with a special guest lecture by Jeremy Rose, titled Ecological impacts of ocean acidification. Jeremy's lecture gave us all a detailed insight to ocean acidification, specifically how it affects the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday 5/10
With the deadline quickly approaching, everyone began cracking down on their projects. After a bit of planning and outlining in the morning, we had our final community ecology lecture from Laura, Species Diversity and Stability in Marine Communities.
Reed and Stephen, playing close attention to lecture...

Some of the highlights of this lecture were when we learned about the different spatial scales on which diversity is acted upon, such as local and regional. Examples of factors that influence diversity locally are species interactions and nutrient availability. Regional diversity is considered more of a reflection of the species available, compared to their interactions.

Almost done with lecture!

 Despite the daunting amounts of Excel files full of data to still be analyzed, the majority of us decided to take over the volleyball court before the "outsiders-with-PhDs-who-insisted-on-building-a-fence-to-keep-the-pokies-out-of-their-feet" invaded our turf.

The fence

After about two hours of "music that robots would listen to" and total domination in our "homeslice," we were practically "prosauce." To wrap up the relaxation time for the day, a large group marched over to Rogue Brewery, decked out in their Hawaiian attire, in search of free beer. Feeling good, we all reconvened back in the library conference room to listen to none other than our New Zealander neighbor, Leigh Tait. He discussed his PhD work, Light competition and algal productivity. Leigh's talk focused on the benefits of increased biodiversity, including greater ecosystem production and stability. His research consisted of the synergistic response between canopy and sub-canopy plots of inter tidal algal species in New Zealand. He explained how light delivery is a complex process, and its use in productivity dynamics are different in complex assemblages. We finished off the night with a last-minute meeting for our projects, and hit the sack anticipating our presentations tomorrow.

Wednesday 5/11
After spending hours in the library staring at graph after graph of intertidal data, all our work had finally come together. We kicked off the morning with two presentations describing the community structure and site-level biodiversity at Boiler Bay and Strawberry Hill.

Wendel, Lisa, and Jessie presenting their data

Then came our typical break for coffee and donuts in the staff lounge, only this time it was even more eventful. Today was Casey's 21st birthday, and who better to share a birthday with than Dr. George Boehlert, the director of HMSC (marking his 21 + a few years birthday)! A birthday song was sung by all, and before long it was time to return to the lecture room to finish off the last two presentations.

Coedine anyone?

After listening to the final groups discuss tide pool diversity and predator diets, it was time to eat. While Casey took her usual nap for the day, Sarah and Stephen joined forced in the tiny kitchen of Winton to begin the secret birthday preparation. After hours and hours (okay maybe just a little over an hour) of slaving over a beautiful cake and chocolate cookies, the goodies were taken to the lecture hall to set up. Thanks to Erin's sneaky distraction, all went as planned. Casey was both surprised and delighted to walk into the community ecology review session, only to be greeted with sweets and birthday song.

High on sugar, we made it through the review and were let loose for independent study. This consisted of another adventure to Rogue, where the group met yet another surprise, Casey's mom! We shared a few drinks and munchies while Casey opened gifts. The group wrapped up the night with a beautiful walk back to the HMSC campus and a night full of community ecology review.
Note: As co-author of this section, I, Casey Pollock, would like to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at Hatfield for making my birthday an absolute blast. I couldn't have asked for a better group to spend it with. You guys are awesome!

Thursday 5/12
Another beautiful day in Newport, right on time for our community ecology final. Just like every other test day, the sun and blue sky came out to tease us. Despite the distractions, we powered through the study day and finished any final touches on our organization. It was a relief for most to find out that the test was open-note. Once we were all done ace-ing the exam, we celebrated with a few hours of volleyball in the sunshine. It was great to see the entire class come together to play, and the additional "beverage of choice" on the rotational break made it worth the wait.

Our wonderful Professor, Laura, and TA, Dafne!

When dinner time rolled around, we all indulged in our homemade pizzas, thanks to Stephen and his crust making magic. Our picnic took place in the covered seating area, where we were joined by Laura and Dafne. To conclude the night, some of the group ventured down the street to Hoovers for an end-of-the-section/Casey's 21er celebration.

Details omitted.

Friday 5/13
Friday morning meetings at 9am... ouch. Dragging our feet, we met in the lecture room for the last time this week, greeted by Sally (she's back!) and Sarah Henkel. We discussed the syllabus for the remaining weeks and eventually broke off for individual consultations. Once the meetings were out, it was a race against the clock to get our proposals written by 5pm. When the deadline rolled around, our emails were sent, full of literature search results and research outlines. The rest of the week was ours to start on our projects (or not) and get some well deserved rest. Congrats to everyone for getting through another section of the program. Whether you like it or not, there's only three weeks left to go. Let's make the best of it, and maybe try to get some work done here and there.


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